Life Sciences

Post Transcriptional Control of Gene Expression

Module code: C7131
Level 6
15 credits in spring teaching
Teaching method: Class, Lecture
Assessment modes: Unseen examination, Coursework

This lecture series investigates what happens to a mRNA from the time it is synthesised, its subsequent processing, remodelling, export into the cytoplasm and ultimate use to make protein. Whilst the processing of mRNA molecules is highly regulated particularly at the levels of transcription and splicing (in eukaryotes), it is the translational machinery which allows the cell to:

  • select whether to use the mRNA to make protein at all;
  • decide which proteins to make;
  • decide how much protein to make and at what time in the cell cycle.

This regulation is crucial to enable gene expression to be finely tuned with growth and allow cells to respond to environmental cues derived from hormones and nutrients.

This module, comprising of a mixture of lectures and seminars, takes an in-depth look at the molecular mechanisms controlling mRNA utilisation and degradation in eukaryotes focussing largely on translational control and what happens if the cell gets it wrong.

Those delivering the lecture series are active researchers in these subject areas, providing their up-to-date interpretation of an active and interesting research area that is relevant to the fundamental understanding of growth control and cancer.

Module learning outcomes

  • Critically discuss the mechanisms involved in the regulation of the surveillance of mRNA integrity and how nonsense-mediated decay is utilised to remove aberrant mRNAs.
  • Demonstrate a systematic understanding of the mechanism of translation, be able to compare and contrast the processes in eukaryotes and prokaryotes and have an in-depth appreciation for how this process is modulated by growth factors and nutrients.
  • Demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the Integrated Stress Response in eukaryotic cells and how viruses can hijack the translational machinery and circumvent the antiviral response at the translational level.
  • Show a critical appreciation of the process of miRNA-mediated control of gene expression, the role for P bodes and stress granules in this response and explain how miRNAs are generated.